It’s not as glamorous as it looks!
New York Fashion Week was a whirlwind experience. During the week, which was officially Sept. 6 – 13, there are numerous events occurring constantly. The fashion shows run from 9am – 9pm, but after parties and events (if you’re lucky enough to get in) may go until the early hours of the morning. You’re surrounded by some of the world’s top designers, creators and influencers, where an overwhelming amount of creativity explodes on the streets of Manhattan. It’s an incredibly fast-paced and chaotic environment that will leave you feeling insignificant, exhausted but incredibly inspired.
This was my very first NYFW, and I went into the experience with unknown expectations. Would I go again? Absolutely. I LOVED being in that environment. But it’s not as glamorous as it looks on social media and there are things I wish I’d known beforehand. Below I’ve outlined what to expect from attending NYFW, including how to get into shows, how much it costs and certain dos and dont’s that may help guide your experience.
The Cost of Attending NYFW
Here’s a breakdown of how much I spent on the week.
Flight: Round trip, purchased four months in advance, was only $260! That’s a great price for a 5-hour flight across the country. One flight was a red-eye, but I didn’t mind for that low of a price.
Traveler Tip: Unless you’re only staying for a few days, you’ll probably be checking a bag to hold ALL of your fabulous outfits. I flew Alaska Airlines for this trip, and spent $25 each flight to check a big bag. Make sure your bag is under 50lbs though, any heavier and you’ll be charged a ridiculous heavy-baggage fee.
Hotel/AirBNB: I lucked out. For this trip, I was able to stay at a friend’s apartment in Soho (shout out to Joe and my girl Karina who made this trip possible!) free of charge. Some bloggers use their platforms to make deals with hotels and get their stay comped. Hotel prices increase during FW because of demand too, so a nightly fee may be anywhere from $150 – $200.
Food: With one sit-down meal allotted per day, budget for about $50 daily for food (including the 2-3 coffees you’ll want!)
Transportation: Your cheapest option? The subway! Each ride is only $2.75. Snag yourself a Metro card and add $25-30 to last the duration of your trip. You can always add more rides if needed.
Ubers/Lyfts are great too, but can both add up quickly and take longer to get to your destination if traffic is bad.
Taxis – we only took these when desperate, or if Uber/Lyft surge prices were too high.
Fashion Shows: Most shows are actually free – you request invitations to shows, you don’t pay for them (more on this below).
Shopping: No matter how much you try to hold back, you will inevitably want to do a little shopping while in NYC. I set aside a couple hundred dollars to splurge on a few coveted pieces. (Note that these weren’t designer label. If you want to purchase designer, set aside at least $500).
Activities & Experiences: I stayed several blocks away from the newly-opened Color Factory, which set me back $53. It’s an interactive exhibit that celebrates creativity and color (see more here). Since I have been to NYC many times, it wasn’t necessary for me to spend a lot on tourist activities, but if you want to see some of the Big Apple’s main attractions make sure you budget at least $150. There are TONS of free activities and sights to see as well.
Traveler Tip: You can purchase an NYC CityPASS for $125, which grants you access to your choice of six of New York’s top attractions (Empire State Building, The MET, etc) throughout a 9-day period. This pass saves you a lot of money versus paying for each attraction individually.
Photoshoots: Want time with a professional photographer for premium IG or blog photos? Booking an hour or two with a professional photographer can set you back $100-200, depending on the duration of your shoot. I spent $75 on an hour-long shoot with a great fashion photographer. See her website here.
Ultimately, this experience set me back a little over $1000. This may seem like a lot, but NYC is not an inexpensive city to travel to. I was also there for over a week. But there are many ways to cut down on costs; take public transportation, choose where you eat wisely, split lodging costs with friends (if you can’t stay for free) and explore free sight-seeing experiences! You can make the trip work (and still have a wonderful time) on a budget.
How to get in?
This was a big question mark for me up until several weeks before my trip. Never having attended NYFW before, I had no clue how to get into shows. My peers kept telling me to research the show schedules, determine the location of shows you want to see and basically stand outside the venue to network and hope for a miracle. While this may work for some bloggers and influencers, I wasn’t thrilled with this idea.
Thankfully, just weeks before my trip I learned about a platform called GPS Radar. If you’re a stylist, blogger, influencer, photographer, or work in a fashion-related field, you can apply to be accepted to GPS Radar, a “private fashion community where brands, media and retailers can connect and share noteworthy news, events and opportunities.” Once accepted, you can request invitations to select NYFW shows.
With that being said, the top designer shows (think Oscar De La Renta, Calvin Klein) are nearly impossible to get into. Just like an elite nightclub, unless you’re “somebody” (or you know “somebody”), you’re a nobody and most likely won’t get in. We stood outside the venue prior to the Jeremy Scott show with the thought that maybe, just maybe, we would get lucky and be admitted, but the General Admission line was around the block and they were turning people away.
What to wear?
I wrote an entire post specifically on this. Check it out here: What to Wear at NYFW
Where are the shows?
All over the city. One of the main venues is Spring Studios in Soho. I attended a few shows there, a few at Industria in Chelsea and several at random locations around lower Manhattan. Some designers chose to showcase their collections at secret venues (Rihanna unofficially closed out Fashion Week at an undisclosed location in Brooklyn!)
What are the shows like?
If you’ve been invited to a show, it’s recommended to arrive 30 min – 1 hour before the start time. Once you arrive, it’s a lot of standing in lines. If you already have a physical ticket, they’ll scan your barcode and tell you where you’re placed: “Seated,” “Priority Standing” and “Standing” are the three options. “Seated” gets ushered in first, followed by “Priority Standing” and then “Standing.” Some shows are not as crowded as others, so sometimes standers are able to secure a seat. Also, if you have been invited to a show, you can usually bring a +1. I brought a +1 to every show I attended with no problem.
Note: Being invited/having a ticket does not guarantee your admission to a show. This is why arriving early is recommended. Some shows over invite to ensure a full crowd. Thankfully, this didn’t happen to me but I’ve heard that it does happen often.
Shows last about 30-40 minutes and tend to run “fashionably late.” A designer may show anywhere from 20-40 looks, each look shown individually and then the entire collection will do a final walk down the runway. You can take pictures and video, but I found it’s tough to get decent pictures during a show due to the harsh lighting and crowds. To fully enjoy a show, leave the photography to the pros. You can stay after a show to take pictures at the venue, but only for a few minutes – the venue likely has another show immediately after.
Another note: Photographers are everywhere! There are hundreds of shows during the busy week all across Manhattan, and street style is just as important for publications to document as the actual runway shows. If you’re outside of a show venue, you will have your picture taken, but unless you take the time to stop and ask every photographer for their contact information (trust me, you won’t want to), you’ll probably never see the pictures. My picture was taken a TON, but I’ve searched online publications and blogs for even one shot of myself and I’ve found nothing.
What shows did I see?
AFFFAIR – favorite of the shows I attended. Collection featured alluringly elegant gold, emerald and black gowns and two-piece sets with progressive cut lines and details. Each piece I caught myself “ooh-ing” and “awe-ing,” each one was more stunning than the last.
Just in XX – Beginning with a Taiwanese rap performance, the collection included high-end avant-garde street wear combining various cultural influences and unusual frills with an awesomely diverse group of models.
Dan Liu – least impressive show. His collection featured cocktail dresses with whimsical prints and a plethora of lace that looked like they should be on the racks at Forever 21.
Ruby Fang – A beautiful collection of formal gowns and women’s suiting using bright, bold colors and intricate details. Another favorite.
Art Hearts Fashion @ NYFW
Night 1: Candice Cuoco (who was a finalist on the 14th season of Project Runway) & The Black Tape Project (fashion using tape)
Night 2: “Made In Italy” night featuring Pin Up Stars, Le Piacentini and Atelier Nicola D’ Errico.
Fashion Week Dos & Dont’s:
- Overschedule. You’ll overwhelm yourself. 3-4 shows per day is plenty.
- Ask photographers if they will take your picture.
- Assume you will be admitted into every show just because you’ve received an invitation.
- Request invitations to a ton of shows that you know you won’t attend. They keep track of requested invitations and attendees who have checked in. If you miss a few due to timing it’s okay, but if you skip many it’s not the best look.
- Give yourself ample time to get from show to show and arrive early. It’s helpful to map out each day of shows with locations to know how long it will take you to get to each one.
- Network in line! Talk to people, learn who they are and what their background is. I met some really cool people while waiting to be admitted, and you never know what kind of opportunities may arise from talking to others.
- Wear the crazy outfit that you are second-guessing!
- Bring snacks/make sure to allot time to eat. You’ll get hungry if you have a full day planned of shows and sight-seeing, and you don’t want to get hangry or give yourself a headache.
- Take a free water in the fridge outside Spring Studios. That’s why it’s there!
- Be a little spontaneous and flexible. If you don’t get into a show, try not to voice your frustration. Instead, take that time to explore, eat or network!
- Have a positive outlook and enjoy the experience! Attending NYFW is a dream for so many people, so have the time of your life!!
Do you have any other questions about NYFW that I didn’t answer? Please comment below or send me an email and I’ll do my best to help! And don’t forget to check out my post on What to Wear at NYFW!
As always, thank you for reading! XOXO